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Gardening, Simple Living

Easy Plants For Window Boxes – Beautiful & Low Key

beautiful-window-boxOne of my favorite landscaping projects we have done on our current home is installing a large window box on the front of our house. Every year I have tried different ways to make the window box look beautiful, and we have discovered it’s not always as easy as it seems! Finding an arrangement of plants that flow together and don’t look awkward can be difficult. But this year I nailed it! Here is what I came up with for easy plants for window boxes that are beautiful and low key.

This was a project I actually did as a gift to the couple that bought our home. Yes, after almost seven years here, we have sold it to move into a home that better fits our growing family and lifestyle. I love this home so much, and I hope the new owners do, too. They have been what I call “dream buyers”–did not try to play any games and were very reasonable.

As a token of our appreciation (because I’m sure as many of you know, home buying/selling is not always so easy) I have planned a couple of small gifts to leave them. One of them was filling the window box. We are moving early June so I could have easily skipped filling the window box, but it was something I felt I wanted to do for them. I also plan to leave them a bottle of wine and replace the water filters in our reverse osmosis system. Nothing too crazy. 😉 But I know they’re things I would love.

Find Your Inspiration

Look at some pictures to see what appeals to you. However, remember that plants aren’t cheap! There are some beautifully grand window boxes you will see online, but some of them have hundreds of dollars worth of plants in them. 🙂 Especially if it is a bigger window box. I like to go with budget-friendly choices since saving money is important to us.

That’s why I say look for inspiration but not necessarily to copy. You will want to know what sort of look you are aiming for, and then you can work to find plants that will achieve that look within your budget.

Here you can see some of my favorite window box inspirations.

I wanted an English Country feel to my window box this year, which definitely influenced my plant choices.

Know How Much Sun You Get

Carefully consider how much sun your window boxes will get in a day. If they will get hardly any, you don’t want to choose plants that need full sun. My front yard gets a good amount of sun, but sometimes my roof shades the window box a bit. I usually choose partial sun plants.

Don’t be dishearted if your window box gets a lot of shade–there are tons of great plants you can use. Impatiens, petunias, ivy, and coleus would be some of my top choices–I love those!

Create A Pattern

I recommend picking a few types of plants for your window box and sticking to them. Maybe it’s just my Type A personality, but I typically buy an even numbered amount of each plant I choose and then arrange them in an organized pattern.

I prefer this to a haphazard random assortment of whatever flowers looked nice at the nursery that day. I have done that in the past, and what I thought was going to look colorful and fun ended up looking like I didn’t really know what I was doing!

Make Them Full! But They Will Grow, Too.

Remember that window boxes should be full. However, you don’t have to jam pack them when planting– the plants will grow and fill out the box on their own as time goes on. But you don’t want to leave big gaps in between plants, either.

window-boxHere is my final window box! I took this picture the day after planting. I can’t wait to see how much it fills out over the next few weeks and the summer! Of course, I won’t be living here anymore so I will have to drive by on occasion. 😉

Make Sure The Plants Are Visible

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The plants in a window box need to be visible! If you are new to planting window boxes, one of the biggest mistakes I see is just putting single flowers in a line. It will look pretty when you’re standing near the window box, but it will not at all be visible from the street. A window box isn’t exactly the same as a rectangular planter.

I saw a cute saying online to help plan out a visible window box: to get some easy plants for window boxes that look great, you need a filler, a spiller, and a thriller. That is so true!

The filler goes back to making sure that your window box is full. If it’s not, it’s not going to give the curb appeal you were hoping for and it will be difficult to see from the street. To get the biggest bang for my buck, I look for plants that naturally spread out wider instead of buying a ton of smaller plants.

A spiller adds dimension to your window box. These are the plants that flow out of the box. I usually use ivy for my spiller–it’s cheap, easy to get, and gives a beautiful English garden feel to my window box.

Finally, the thriller is the color and beautiful flowers you usually think of automatically when picturing a window box. You can use what you would like for this, but to get the biggest bang for my buck, I actually combined my filler & thriller into one plant this year: I used purple and white sweet alyssum.

Sweet Alyssum will spread out and fill on its own, but it’s also beautiful and smells amazing.

You can see the pattern I created and how the sweet alyssum almost acts as an “all of the above” plant. It fills, it spills, it thrills! 😉 I chose to go with subtle coloring for the window box, but you may wish to have even more pops of color. Petunias would be a great, colorful choice.

Water Often!

Nothing is sadder than a brown and withering window box. Make sure you water regularly. Also, you may even want to consider a product like Miracle-Gro Water Storing Crystals. I have used them with great success in my window boxes, though I did not throw any in this year. Hopefully, the new owners water often!

My Window Box “Recipe”

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If you’re interested in copying or creating a similar window box to what I did, here is what I used:

  • 4 White Sweet Alyssum Plants
  • 4 Lavender Sweet Alyssum Plants
  • 6 English Ivy

My window box is about 7.5 ft (90 inches) long. You may want more or fewer plants depending on the size.

As you can see, I started on the far left with a white sweet alyssum plant. I followed that with ivy, then lavender sweet alyssum, then ivy again. Then I started the pattern over again. The only time I deviated from my pattern is in the center where I put a white and lavender sweet alyssum next to each other. That probably needed no acknowledgment, but there is a glimpse into how Type A I can be sometimes. 😉

These truly are some easy plants for window boxes, and they helped me make my favorite window box I’ve ever made!

What did you put in your window box this year? Let me know in the comments!

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8 Comments

  1. Wow! Very very nice! My mom loves gardening! And I am sharing this with her right now! 

    These are very nice ideas and for sure she would want to copy it. Personally, I really like your window box recipe. It looks very simple but yet it looks really posh. 

    Again thank you for these ideas. My mom is really excited to start her own window box project!

    All the best!

    1. admin says:

      Thanks AJ! Thanks for sharing with your mom. I bet she could teach me a thing or two as well. 🙂

  2. Dave says:

    Hallo there Holly,

    I totally agree with you, home buying and selling is not an easy thing. It is actually the hardest thing I’ve done personally,

    The plants look just awesome and well matched for the windows. You really did a good job. I would also like to point out that it was very sweet of you to decided to do some cool plants for the new owners and some wine. It is not a normal thing and that was my “aawww” moment. 

    I really wish there could be more people like you in this world. We would create our own piece of heaven on earth.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and advice on the plants. It was a really awesome read! 🙂

    1. admin says:

      Thanks Dave! 🙂

  3. Henderson says:

    Your window box is really eye catchy. Like you, we just moved and everyone around here seems to have a thing for flowers so I thought I should try something out. The idea of a window box is really cool and I’m going to gun for that. I’ll probably get some colourful flowers. I’ll be sure to remember your tips. Keep them high, water them and know the amount of sun they get. Thank you so much.

    1. admin says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

  4. Ally says:

    Hi Holly, I love your window box with the alyssum!  I think it’s so effective to use two colours of the same plant and I love that you just made a simple alternating arrangement.  I love my window boxes and I was glad to see you reference Impatiens.  This year, because I know I simply do not have so much free time at the moment, I went for Impatiens or Bizzy Lizzy as we call them.  They are hardy, resistant to fluctuating sun and rain, and give a lovely burst of colour.  I never heard of Thriller, Spiller, Filler before but that is what I have been doing naturally with my wall baskets and hanging baskets for years to get a full shape, maximum space coverage and with lots of different colours and textures.  I tend to pick a colour for each of my six wall baskets then plant something tall in the middle, a couple of trailing plants such as petunias or fuchsia and some kind of spreading flower in-between.  Did you make those wooden boxes yourself or did you buy them?  They really compliment the style of your house and add loads of old world charm.  Well done!

    1. admin says:

      Thanks, Ally! We did make them ourselves! We have since moved to a new house, and I miss them. 😢 This house has white plastic ones. We may make cedar ones again sometime!

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